Rush Limbaugh used the terms “slut” and “prostitute” to slander a woman — Sandra Fluke — who spoke on Capitol Hill about contraceptives. Bill Maher used language about Sarah Palin that cannot be printed here. A small industry has sprung up to determine which of these men stakes a greater claim to Mass Media Misogynist of the Early ’10s.
Let that debate continue — it’s an important one.
Now for a neighboring consideration: Who lets these fellows get away with their offenses? After unleashing a misogynistic comment on air, do they have to walk past a female staffer or two on the way to the canteen?
Let’s talk Maher first. He does a show on HBO called “Real Time.” A page on the HBO Web site inventories the show’s staffing. Here are the people on that page:
Scott Carter, executive producer and writer; Brad Grey, executive producer; Sheila Griffiths, executive producer; Marc Gurvitz, executive producer; Bill Maher, executive producer and writer; Billy Martin, executive producer and writer; Dean Johnsen, co-executive producer; Matt Wood, producer; Mike Larsen, writer; Adam Felber, writer; Brian Jacobsmeyer, writer; Jay Jaroch, writer; Chris Kelly, writer; Paul Casey, director.
Bold text was added to highlight the only apparent female on that staff list. Italicized text was added to highlight a guy whose bio includes this line: “Wearing the hats of both a producer and a writer — and they’re actual hats, one a simple ball cap and the other a pretentious derby — Billy arrives at the office early to get a jump on his work and to look at porn before the others arrive.”
Hold on a minute, though. HBO spokesman Quentin Schaffer says that the Web site doesn’t properly reflect the level of gender diversity of “Real Time.” There are 25 staffers on the show, says Schaffer, and 10 of them are women. “Of those, there are segment producers, and all four of those are women,” says Schaffer, adding that three senior programming executives that oversee “Real Time” are women.
Aha — a scandal within the scandal: HBO keeps women off the “Real Time” staff list on its Web site. Start drafting the class-action suit! (HBO is reportedly going to update the staff list very soon to reflect its more feminine side.)
The spokesman further notes that Maher himself groomed executive producer Griffiths for a big role on his show. “He’s solely responsible for bringing her to the top,” says Schaffer.
Did any of these numerous female staffers raise a ruckus after Maher last year referred to Palin as a “dumb [unprintable-in-The-Post word]”? Here’s the response from Schaffer:
There are always women in the writers’ meetings and they openly share their thoughts or concerns on the material being discussed. At the end of the day, Bill has the ultimate say and balances those suggestions with how far he wants to push the edge with his comedic voice.
Not that women alone are capable of denouncing hatred of women; men can do that, too. Yet the more women in the conference room, as a rule, the less daylight for misogyny.
On one matter, at least, there is no equivalence whatsoever between Limbaugh and Maher, and that’s staff transparency. There doesn’t appear to be a staff page on the radio host’s Web site, and several experts consulted on this question say they haven’t seen one. Wikipedia has this list. It suggests that there aren’t many Las Rushbas in the domain of El Rushbo, but a source with the show says the list is not correct.
When asked for an authoritative accounting, Rachel Nelson of Premiere Radio Networks responded, “It’s our policy not to share personnel information.” Not that a list of, like, people who work on your show is bona fide personnel information. Keep that in mind the next time Limbaugh rants about government keeping secrets from the people.